Hammers Continue Run With Stoke Point
By Tom Dowsett
Tuesday 20 Nov 2012 14:20:00
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As I referred to in my preview for this match, West Ham have achieved two marvellous results against Manchester City and Newcastle United. Although Stoke city seemed the easier game of the month, they were still a tough nut for the Hammers to crack. Despite going behind and trailing at half-time, they were the better side in the second half and a 1-1 draw was a fair result in the end.

Sam Allardyce had to make two changes to the team that won at St James's Park. Gary O'Neil made his first start of the season in place of Yossi Benayoun while Modibo Maiga came in from Matt Jarvis. Despite reports to the contrary in his post match interview after last weekend's game in which Allardyce said that George McCartney had suffered the most serious of the three injuries picked up in that game, the Northern Irish defender started the match. Midfielder Matthew Taylor made a return to the bench along with James Collins, who Big Sam decided against recalling, meaning James Tomkins kept his starting place in defence.

The game got underway with both sides having their fair share of possession without creating any clear-cut chances. However, 13 minutes in, the visitors took the lead with a move straight from the training ground. Though McCartney seemed to be blocked off as he tried to track the run of Jonathan Walters, the Stoke striker's goal stood meaning the majority inside Upton Park were a little subdued.

The Potters could have increased the advantage four minutes later, as Mohamed Diame lost possession to Charlie Adam and the midfielder saw Jussi Jaaskelainen off his line and tried an audacious lob but the ball ended up going wide.

The home side were enjoying their fair share of possession but unable to make anything count until 23 min when Andy Caroll and Maiga combined well to find Mark Noble, who in turn found O'Neill, the midfielder's cross found Caroll but his header was well saved by Asmir Begovic.

The next West Ham chance came four minutes later from a Stoke throw in, as skipper Kevin Nolan forced Begovic into a superb diving save.

On 37 min, the Potters nearly made it 2-0 as Steven N'Zonzi's effort from 25 yards out beat Jaaskelainen but not the underside of the crossbar.

Whatever Allardyce said at half-time must have had an effect because West Ham made a superb start to the second half and could have gone ahead just a minute in. Good play from Diame and Maiga resulted in the former releasing George McCartney who in turn found Nolan. Sadly he just couldn't get the ball out from his feet and plant a shot past Begovic who saved brilliantly with his legs.

West Ham did equalise through then next attack though, when Diame went on another surging run and after his initial shot was blocked he then set up O'Neill who crossed for Joey O'Brien. The Irish defender then lifted the ball into the roof of the net to register his first ever Premier League goal.

The Hammers could have taken the lead after a Noble corner was met by Carroll. Maiga's first time shot was blocked on the line by the Stoke defence. O'Neill smashed the ball back into the box which was blocked by two Stoke defenders before Caroll went in again but he committed a foul in the process.

The Hammers went close again on 64 min through O'Neill as a short corner routine resulted in his shot bending around the outside of the far post and beating Begovic but sadly not going into the back of the net.

On 77 minutes, just as the attendance was announced at 35,005, Big Sam made West Ham's first change replacing O'Brien with Guy Demel.

With four minutes of normal time to play, the home side made a double change replacing Carroll with Carlton Cole. The striker was making his 150th Premier league appearance. Modibo Maiga also came for Taylor.

West Ham had chances to grab a winner but in the end they couldn't make them count. Referee Chris Foy blew his whistle seconds later meaning that the Hammers are still in 7th place in the table going into the big London Derby with Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday afternoon.

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